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School Security Now and Later, Danbury Education Board Decides

The Danbury Board of Education agreed to create a Task Force with an April deadline for long-term security issues, but it agreed to implement any good security ideas ASAP.

The Danbury Board of Education heard from two parents Wednesday, one who wanted armed security in the elementary schools and one who doesn't.

The board decided it will look at long-term solutions for school security and quicker fixes. By long-term, the board appeared to agree it wants to finish the study by April, and the quicker fixes are steps the board can take to secure schools immediately.

Rob SanSeverino, who also attended the Jan. 3 Danbury Board of Education workshop on school security, told the board he has been circulating a petition that calls for armed police officers in all Danbury Schools.

Today Danbury has four armed police officers in Danbury High School and one each at the city's two middle schools. The whole issue of school security was raised after the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of six school staff and 20 elementary school students.

"I feel we're not prepared. We're not ready for it," SanSeverino said. Door locks, door buzzers, cameras. "It isn't enough."

Cindy Garnett, the parent of a middle school student and a high school student, said she also attended the Jan. 3 workshop, and she wants the board to take its time and make reasonable decisions. She acknowledges it can't plan for every possibility.

"I'm not in favor of guns in the schools," Garnett said. "I'd like to see the focus on the underlying issue. Mental health."

The board made no decisions Wednesday, but it appeared to accept the idea of a small task force made up of several board members, Emergency Management Director Paul Estefan, Fire Chief Geoff Herald, Police Chief Al Baker and members of the school administration and parents. The Task Force would work until April and make long-term recommendations.

Among possible options are hiring more "safety advocates," who would be unarmed people who walk the elementary school hallways making sure any visitors they find belong there. The school system now uses safety advocates in the high school and two middle schools. Another idea is to hire private unarmed security at all elementary schools, and that plan is now being tried. A third option is to hire armed private security guards. A fourth option is to hire fully trained and armed Danbury Police Officers for all elementary schools.

Superintendent of Schoosl Sal Pascarella said that while the whole idea of a task force might strike people as a delay or slow process, he said not this time. Any recommendation that comes out of the task force quickly will be implemented ASAP.

bordwithbs January 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Perhaps a survey of the schools by professional security personnel, from local expertise at places like Boehringer, Danbury Hospital, IBM, etc would give us a picture of what is needed to provide the best security systems. I realize the concerns are all valid, but moving too quickly will leave gaps in what we are trying to accomplish.
Mark Langlois (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Morning Bord, They said they would hire a consultant and are looking now. The one who did the 2004/06 study is out of business. That security study arose from 911 and Columbine. It looks at a host of issues, and the one they're talking about here is school security. I was surprised so few parents showed up at the meeting.
Semmas January 10, 2013 at 01:38 PM
I think the only option is to have armed police officers at all schools. Anything less would be the status quo.
Julie SanSeverino January 10, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Im glad that they are seeing the need to move quickly with any decisions. We are in the opinion that a police officer at school is a natural progression of our times. Isn't there an officer at other places where large group of people meet regularly? Are kids afraid of the police officer they see when they go Disneyland or a music concert? Wasn't there an officer at this meeting last night? Its not about "bringing guns into schools" it's about using our city police department to protect us and serve us in our city schools. We appreciate and respect that not every one will be in agreement. Obviously we are all in titled to our opinions and want the best for our children. Here is the link to the petition if anyone wants to sign. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/220/433/241/we-need-police-officers-in-our-elementary-schools/
Brian January 10, 2013 at 03:00 PM
In my opinion, the first step the City and Board of Education needs to do, even before the creation of the Task Force, is to consult with a firm which specializes in physical security matters and in can offer recommendations on how to handle situations such as Sandy Hook. The recommendations of the firm will help the City and BoE's better utilize it's time and resources in areas that need attention. I know that a parent who attended the workshop provided the city with the name of a firm that would provide this service for free. This firm has provided such services for Sikorsky and other security conscious businesses. Having attended the BoE workshop last week, the Mayor was strong in saying they could not man each city school with a police officer because they do not have the manpower nor could they hire enough officers, partially due to police academy's seat limitations available to the city for training. I then advised that the city should hire properly trained armed security guards, because hiring unarmed personnel to walk the hallways of our city's school will not deter those who want to do harm to our children. Unfortunately, they will only become victims themselves.
Julie SanSeverino January 10, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Semmas, Please visit http://www.thepetitionsite.com/220/433/241/we-need-police-officers-in-our-elementary-schools/ and sign the petition to make your opinion count. Also please consider attending the next Board of Ed meeting on Jan 23 at 7pm and make your voice heard!
Teresa January 10, 2013 at 07:32 PM
I agree with Brian and Julie. And have already sign the petition, nothing but armed guards or Police officers in our schools! It's the only thing that will protect our children...... To hire unarmed security is a waste of time and taxpayers money.....
Julie SanSeverino January 11, 2013 at 12:22 AM
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Danbury-Parents-for-Police-in-School/442195349169221

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